Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Injury and Fitness Force Pep's Hand

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Injury and Fitness Force Pep's Hand

Article excerpt

PEP Guardiola explained his City team selection decisions for the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final with Tottenham.

The Blues boss threw a few curveballs with Fabian Delph in the XI, Kevin de Bruyne on the bench and Bernardo Silva absent from the squad completely.

Bernardo's absence was explained by injury, although the coach hopes it is not serious enough to rule him out of the second leg at the Etihad Stadium next week.

Injury to Aleks Zinchenko and Benjamin Mendy's lack of fitness also forced the left-back issue somewhat, although there were options that Guardiola could have taken rather than hand Delph just his third start of 2019. Yet the Blues boss plumped for the England man.

He said: "I saw him really well in the last few days.

"After four or five months being injured, two games in four days for Mendy was too much.

"Bernardo could not play so we played Riyad (Mahrez) and he played good, especially in the second half when he had someone close to him because in the first half it was not easy for him.

At this season injuries, problems City Pep "In the second half we found these situations and he played much, much better. It is what it is.

"At this point in the season there are injuries, there are problems. Hopefully next week maybe Bernardo will be fit." Guardiola also revealed that the decision to leave De Bruyne on the bench was tactical rather than down to fitness with the manager changing his usual approach of only one holding midfielder.

He said: "I decided to play with two holding midfielders in that position - [Ilkay] Gundogan and Fernandinho - to be a bit more solid.

point in the there are there are manager Guardiola "It's not the issue. I know it's tough for him but we have the second leg. We spoke about that. It's 180 minutes.

"We play to score a goal. Unfortunately we couldn't score but we have the second game. …

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